Thursday, 18 December 2014

What's coming up in 2015

2014 has been an exciting year for us as we turned five, raised a record amount of money at our Sheffield Food Festival stall and enjoyed some brilliant meetings. Our committee have been working hard finalising the programme for 2015 with an awesome year planned for the WI's centenary year.

All the events, activities and speakers are chosen from member's own suggestions - if you have any ideas for 2016 then let us know at a meeting or email us.

You can pick up a printed copy of our programme at January's meeting. 

Thu 15th January
Paul Cocker & Christmas Present Swap
Paul Cocker of Meze Publishing will be telling us how he brought together a career in local media with his love of food, by turning his hand to publishing cookbooks including the Sheffield Cook Book.

Thu 19th February
Claire Kemp Cakes
A Sheffield cake expert, Claire Kemp, will be polishing up our cake decorating skills and sharing her baking secrets. We will also vote for our charity of the year at this meeting.

Thu 19th March
Bobbins & Buttons: Jewellery Making
Lauren from Bobbins & Buttons will help us get crafty by making beaded tassel bracelets. Remember your scissors and needles! There will be an additional material charge of £2 per person. 

Thu 16th April

Sam Cleasby
Sam is a blogger (, writer and public speaker. She will be talking about body image, self esteem and how she lives with a chronic illness. An uplifting and inspirational talk on how you can feel more confident and happy in your own skin. 

Thu 21st May
Give us an S - H - W - I! Jessica Stanley from Constance Grant Dance Centre will be putting us through our paces as we learn how to cheer.

Thu 18th June
Gary Cox: Security expert
Gary Cox has years of experience working for the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Justice. He’ll be speaking to us about his role in advising front-line personnel in challenging and complex areas such as use of force, control and restraint, intelligence analysis, surveillance, major search planning and hostage intervention.

There’s no meeting in July - but keep your eyes peeled for details of our annual picnic!

Thu 20th August
Jordon Cox
We’re back in August with Jordon Cox - The Coupon Kid. A regular contributor to the media, including the BBC, Daily Mail and ITV, he’ll share his money saving secrets, talk about the inspiring world of couponing and how his money-saving story began.

Thu 18th September
Cheese tasting and talk
One for the foodies! We’re always keen to support local artisan food producers and this month sees the team from the Hartington Creamery and Cheese Factory pay us a visit. As well as sampling some of their delicious produce, we'll find out how they've single-handedly revived the Derbyshire cheese industry.

Thu 15th October
6th Birthday party: Stand-up comedy with Dotty Winters
We're in for a treat at our 6th birthday party! Dotty Winters is an award-winning comedian with a secret life as a grown up business person. Fan of fancy words and purveyor of wrongness, Dotty has a talent for finding hilarity in otherwise sombre situations.

Thu 19th November
Felt Craft Workshop
Shelley Hughes will be showing us the basic skills of felt-making to create a beautiful little bird - perfect as a gift or as a little Christmas decoration. All materials will be provided and absolutely no experience is necessary - it's easier than you think!

Thu 17th December
Cocktail making
We'll be joined by Ed from the Broadfield Ale House, whose take on cocktail making is a perfect blend of art and science. Whether you like your cocktails shaken, stirred or merely muddled, Ed will share plenty of tips while you sup a tipple. Not forgetting our annual Christmas quiz and Secret Santa swap - bring a wrapped up to the value of £5.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another New Wave weekend at Denman College

Last weekend, 10 SHWI members went to the 'New Wave weekend' at the WI’s own Denman College.  Some of us had been before, a couple of years ago, but for others, it was our first time to Denman, and we didn’t quite know what to expect.  What we found was a glorious Grade II listed Georgian house, filled with around 70 women from other WIs, and the most accommodating and friendly staff (except for one slightly disrespectful barman, but he was more than made up for by the lovely Matt!).

Joanne, Lauren and Lucy outside Denman

Once we’d settled into our comfortable rooms, Friday evening started with a welcome talk and cocktails.  The slight tardiness of the cocktails (don’t keep a roomful of thirsty women waiting for free drinks!) was thankfully no indication of the organisation of the rest of the weekend, as everything ran like clockwork.  Dinner followed, and although not Yorkshire portions, was delicious.  After a cookery demonstration by Peter Lien, Head of the WI Cookery School, the evening drinking could begin in earnest…

The SHWI gang enjoy the food and wine
After a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning, we separated to go to our workshops.  We each got to choose three activities from a range including making textile decorations, biscuiteering, Bollywood dancing, meringues and vintage corsages.  To ensure our energy levels didn’t drop during the day, there were plenty of coffee breaks with homemade cakes and shortbread, a lovely salad bar or hot meal for lunch, and another three course dinner.

I found all the workshop tutors to be excellent, although they each had their own teaching style.  I enjoyed all of the sessions I attended, even if biscuit icing turned out to not be one of my greatest skills! (They still tasted good, though).

Grace's iced biscuits
I also really enjoyed the tour of the house – it gave some fascinating information about the history of the building, and sneaky peaks into some of the other bedrooms!  Most of the rooms on the first floor were quite grand, with original features and large windows.  My room was on the second floor, in the old servants’ quarters, and featured the call bell for the previous owner inside the wardrobe.  Luckily it didn’t ring whilst I was in residence!

Laura made this at the papercutting workshop
Saturday evening split our group between the two entertainments laid on.  Some partook in the lively salsa/zumba dancing, whilst others entered the quiz.  After the organised entertainment was over, it was back to the bar for some more drinking!  SHWI managed to be last up on both nights, and I heard stories of a game of hide and seek in the early hours.

Sunday morning gave us time for one more workshop, then, after lunch, with our waistlines and horizons broadened, and new friendships forged, it was time to say farewell. 

I feel like I am running out of superlatives, but I really did thoroughly enjoy the weekend, much more than I was expecting to.  My main question now is 'can we go again next year?'

Mary Beckingsale
SHWI Member

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Annual Meeting, new President and plenty of Henderson's Relish

I wanted to start this month's blog with saying one final thank you and farewell to our founding President and Secretary - Lindsay Garfitt and Kim Whelan. Without them, I probably would't be a member of a WI today and I wouldn't have made the friendships I have made. The success of Seven Hills WI is a testament to the hard work they have put into the group since 2009. So thank you so much.

From left to right: Kirsty, Lindsay, Kim and Laura

Since we waved goodbye to Lindsay and Kim last month, we've had the excitement of our SHWI getaway, our successful Christmas market plus Laura, Vicky and I appeared on Sheffield Live TV. It's been a jam-packed start to my term as President!

November soon came round and it was time for our meeting. Part of being in the committee is to organise our meetings and Lindsay and Kim have always been a huge part of making them run smoothly. That means getting to Electric Works before our members, making sure the tables and chairs are all out and ready, teas and coffees are prepared and any activities set up. It was somewhat daunting to realise that this was down to Laura and I now. I got to Electric Works ridiculously early and was soon met by Laura Bainbridge, our new Secretary. We looked at each other and laughed - our faces both said 'so what are we supposed to do now?'.

Of course we knew. Laura has been a member of Seven Hills WI from the very start. She lives and breathes WI - baking for our food festival, attending federations events and always first to help with our campaigns and activities. Well-respected by other local WI's, Laura will make a fab secretary - she has the pencil skirt and sexy specs down.

Sam Foster, our new meeting attendance secretary, Treasurer Vicky P-M and Vice Treasurer Leanne Sunter had a busy night. It was the last chance for our current members to have their membership guaranteed for 2015 so we had a good turn out of familiar faces wanting to get their place for next year.

It was also our annual meeting - a chance for us to review the highlights of the last year. Laura had spent hours putting together a brilliant presentation running through everything SHWI had done since October last year - that's a lot of stuff! It included our food festival fundraising, the start of SHWI Mad Skillz, ceilidh dancing and our Christmas party. Vicky P-M also gave us a run though of finances where everything is ship shape and shiny. Then we had our yearly rousing rendition of Jerusalem (one member did ask me if we would be singing every meeting from now on but unfortunately I don't think we would be able to fit it in every week!).

Laura's presentation for our annual meeting

Our guest speaker was Jim Connolly, illustrator and artist. Jim grew up in Sheffield but has moved to Manchester now and works freelance at home. He showed us some of his illustrations, prints and commissions which was great to see. I particularly enjoyed seeing the designs he has done for Kelham Island brewery's beer pump clips.

Jim Connolly and one of his most iconic pieces

As Jim has been inspired by Sheffield's favourite condiment, Henderson's Relish in his artwork, we asked him to be a judge for our Hendo's bake-off. Aided by condiment expert, Anna P, Jim got to taste some fantastic bakes including two sets of muffins - one with chedder and the other wensleydale as well as spicy sausage rolls which went down a treat. It was a close competition and Karin Safwenberg was runner-up with her incredible pork pie with cheese centre and hendo's jelly. But the winner once again was Sam Foster with her homemade blinis topped with mozarella, tomato, basil and Henderson's Relish caviar. That's right - CAVIAR. I think we might have to ban her from the next competition, she is just too good. A big thanks to Paul Cocker for donating the prize - a copy of the new Henderson's Relish cook book.

It was soon time to end the meeting and our members did a fab job of clearing away tea cups, tables and chairs. We were out of the door in record time so thanks very much ladies!

Hope to see lots of you at our Christmas Party on the 4th December at Haggler's Corner. If not, see you next month for Secret Santa, Christmas food and our annual quiz!

Kirsty Bowen

Christmas market raises £368 for the Young Women's Housing Project

We're proud to announce that our Christmas market on Saturday 15th November raised an awesome £368.

The market featured stalls from local WI members and local businesses such as Crafty Jackdaw and Abbeydale Road beer shop, Hop Hideout. Cakes and refreshments baked by Seven Hills WI members raised over £200.

All money raised will go to our charity of the year, the Young Women’s Housing Project. The project helps young women aged 16 to 25 who have been affected by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual/domestic violence.

Vice President Jennifer Marsden said: ‘I'm so pleased we could raise £368 for Young Women's Housing Project. They make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable women in South Yorkshire. A big thank you to everyone who supported the event and our super talented members for baking cakes.'

Some of our cakes baked by members